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Status Brief


Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Fiorill, Joe, “U.S. Promises New WMD Detection Capabilities Within a YearGlobal Security Newswire. February 23, 2004 [http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/us-promises-new-wmd-detection-capabilities-within-a-year-1255/] Last Checked October 6, 2013

  1. “WASHINGTON — The United States will over the next year develop new capabilities for detecting nuclear material in shipping containers and a new generation of biological- and chemical-agent detectors, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today.”
  2. “They included greater cooperation with business; better interoperability of communications and other emergency management equipment; better citizen preparedness; and a more standardized, integrated picture of the terrorist threat and of the level of vulnerability to attack around the country.”
  3. “”Over the year,” he said, “Homeland Security will be buttoning up our lab coats a little higher and committing to specific goals ― developing new capabilities for detecting the presence of nuclear materials in shipping containers and vehicles and developing next-generation biological and chemical detectors, ones uniquely sensitive enough to redirect air flow to allow evacuation of buildings if a dangerous pathogen is detected.””
  4. “Ridge predicted “real-time nationwide connectivity between all 50 states and territories” within the year, including “cyberconnectivity” within three months; a secure videoconferencing network in all governors’ offices by July; an integrated national database of critical infrastructure by December; and the expansion of the Container Security Initiative, which currently provides increased scrutiny of shipping containers at 17 foreign ports, to 10 more such ports within the next 12 months.”
  5. “Ridge named the WMD detection programs as his top priorities for the department’s Science and Technology Directorate.”

Container Security, WMD, CSI, Homeland Security


Scrivo, Karen, L, “GAO Evaluates Programs Targeting Cargo OverseasGlobal Security Newswire. March 12, 2004. http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/gao-evaluates-programs-targeting-cargo-overseas-1488/ Last Checked October 12, 2013.

  1. “WASHINGTON — Spurred by the security concerns of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, the GAO has launched an investigation into the effectiveness of two Bush administration initiatives aimed at targeting suspicious overseas cargo before it reaches U.S. ports.”
  2. “The investigation comes as the Homeland Security Department is asking Congress to approve a $25 million increase for the Container Security Initiative, which is designed to screen U.S.-bound cargo in foreign ports, and $15.2 million more for the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, which seeks to help importers and ocean freight companies improve security.”
  3. “Several lawmakers, including Senate Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) have told the GAO they are concerned that the programs may not be doing enough to block terrorists from sneaking nuclear or bio-chemical weapons and other dangerous materials aboard ships bound for busy U.S. ports.”
  4. “The delegation discovered a low percentage of containers were actually inspected, according to one participant on the trip. At Hamburg, U.S. Customs personnel were miles away from the port and their foreign counterparts. Because the CSI program is voluntary, foreign port inspectors can refuse requests by Customs officials for further scrutiny of suspicious freight containers, this source said.”
  5. “Under the CSI program, officers from the Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection Bureau work with their foreign counterparts at participating ports overseas to target high-risk cargo containers.”
  6. “Since CSI has been operational — not many containers have been checked, according to Stephen Flynn, an expert on transportation security at the Council on Foreign Relations. This is due in part to the department’s limited resources, the program’s dependence on the host country’s friendliness and concerns about “crying wolf” too often, he said.”
  7. “Decisions to inspect containers are often based on the cargo manifests, whether the container comes from troubled parts of the word or an unknown shipper or is accompanied by bungled paperwork, Flynn said. Cargo manifests can be very unreliable and terrorists know who the trusted shippers are, he said.”

Container Security, CSI, WMD


Fiorill, Joe, “Democrats Seek Deadline for Port Radiation MonitorsGlobal Security Newswire. http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/democrats-seek-deadline-for-port-radiation-monitors/ Last checked October 13, 2013

  1. “WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) yesterday introduced a bill that would require the Homeland Security Department within 16 months to deploy portal-style radiation detectors in all U.S. ports.”
  2. ““Ports are a prime target for terrorist attack,” said the full committee’s top Democrat, Jim Turner (D-Texas), “and yet, this administration has not done all it can to protect thousands of miles of coastline and millions of cargo containers entering this country each year. We must move faster to protect our communities and the global economy from the impact of an attack at a U.S. port.””
  3. “The bill, called the Secure Containers from Overseas and Seaports from Terrorism Act (Secure COAST Act), would require Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection Bureau by Sept. 30, 2005, to “deploy radiation-detection portal equipment at all U.S. seaports, other U.S. ports of entry and major facilities as determined by the secretary” of homeland security. It would authorize $297 million in fiscal 2005 for that work.”
  4. ““In order to facilitate the detection of nuclear weapons in maritime cargo containers,” Customs and Border Protection would also be required to develop a plan for bringing gamma ray-based radiation-detection portals to U.S. ports and to foreign ports participating in the Container Security Initiative, in which U.S. and foreign governments cooperate to screen U.S.-bound shipments. The plan would be due to congressional committees 180 days after enactment of the Secure COAST Act.”
  5. “Besides the radiation-detection provisions, Sanchez’s bill would require Homeland Security to establish standards and a verification process for cargo-container security, authorize a port-security grant program that would total more than $500 million in fiscal 2005, compel the department to deploy a program to track long-range vessels and create a “maritime information-sharing analysis center.””
  6. “The bill would speed the Coast Guard’s massive Deepwater acquisition program to acquire ships and other equipment, shortening the schedule from 22 to 10 years. The measure would also fund an automatic vessel-identification program for the Coast Guard and beef up the force from 39,000 to 50,000 members.”
  7. ““Port security, as we’ve said for some time, has been drastically underfunded,” said association spokeswoman Maureen Ellis.”

Container Security, CSI


Editors,”U.S. Customs Chief Expresses Concern About Terrorist Nuclear ThreatGlobal Security Newswire. January 12, 2005. http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/us-customs-chief-expresses-concern-about-terrorist-nuclear-threat/ Last Checked October 6, 2013

  1. “Al-Qaeda could acquire a nuclear device and transport it to the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner warned yesterday.”
  2. ““I worry most about the nuclear threat,” said Bonner. “Al-Qaeda wants to get a nuclear device. I’m very concerned that at some point they will get it.””
  3. “He added, however, that more sophisticated systems for detection of weapons of mass destruction have been installed in several overseas ports. Some 34 countries are cooperating with the United States on the Container Security Initiative and another 50 were expected to join the program this year, he said.”

Container Security, CSI, Nuclear


CBP Media Services, “Container Security Initiative 2006-2011 Strategic Plan“, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, August 2006: http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/cargo_security/csi/csi_strategic_plan.ctt/csi_strategic_plan.pdf

  1. primary system of global trade = containerized shipping, protected from terrorists
  2. pre-screen containers posing a potential threat before leaving foreign ports for US
  3. began in January 2002
  4. Goals: identify high risk containers through intelligence, prescreen and evaluate containers before shipped, use X-ray, Gamma ray, and radiation detection devices to prescreen, and use more secure containers to identify containers tampered with
  5. 44 ports worldwide use CSI as of August 2006
  6. “The World Customs Organization, the EU, and the G8 support CSI expansion and have adopted resolutions to introduce and implement security measures and non-intrusive inspection standards similar to CSI at ports throughout the world.”
  7. part of CBP’s mission to “prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the US” through maritime containers
  8. “Examinations of cargo or persons do not require search warrants, probable cause, or particularized suspicion” * hope to have around 70 ports use CSI by 2010

Homeland Security, Export Control, Law Enforcement, CBP, Interdiction, CSI


Container Security Initiative (CSI), GLOBALSECURITY.ORG, 2007: http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/ops/csi.htm

  1. cargo containers in our ports are potentially threats to security as they can hold nuclear weapons that can be detonated
  2. “terror in a box”
  3. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) -“shippers commit to improving the security of their cargo shipments, and in return, they receive a range of benefits from our government” -however, shippers who have promised to take security measures don’t usually get cargo searched and it is not determined whether they actually carried out the security measures.
  4. CSI screens containers that pose a risk before they depart for US ports of entry by using intelligence information -screening process done by CBP (Customs & Border Patrol) officials
  5. US has a reciprocal program with other nations who send their officials to the US to oversee that cargo going to their home country is secure
  6. CBP has bilateral agreements shares info with CSI participants globally

Homeland Security, Nonproliferation, Export Control, CB, CSI


Basham, Ralph W.,”Remarks by CBP Commissioner W. Ralph Basham on Container Security at the Center for Strategic and International StudiesCBP.Gov. July 11, 2007. http://www.gatekeeperusainc.com/industry-news/remarks-by-cbp-commissioner-w-ralph-basham-on-container-security-at-the-center-for-strategic-and-international-studies.html Last checked May 15, 2013

  1. “We’re also making exciting progress overseas, as well. CSI will soon be deployed in 58 foreign ports, which will cover 85 percent of the maritime containerized cargo coming to the U.S. And, we are now implementing the next generation of CSI—the Secure Freight Initiative—or SFI—which integrates radiation detection and container imaging.”
  2. “Information from this technology, combined with our normal analysis of manifest data, will provide a comprehensive, real-time approach to assessing the risk of every container bound for the U.S.”
  3. “This initiative is the culmination of our work with other Government agencies, foreign governments, the trade community, and vendors of leading edge technology. And, like all our security initiatives, this increased information will help facilitate trade because questions about shipments that appear to be high risk can be resolved quickly and effectively.”
  4. “Trying to legislate a requirement that all 11 million plus containers undergo image scanning and radiation detection monitoring prior to leaving a foreign port just does not make sense. The impact on the flow of commerce would be enormous and the result would be lower profits and higher transportation costs for U.S. importers.”
  5. “It would hand the terrorists a victory on one of their key aims—inflicting serious damage on the U.S. economy—without them having to take any action whatsoever.”
  6. “I am also concerned about our credibility with our international partners. When several nations agreed to partner with us in testing the 100 percent concept, it was done with the understanding that the findings would drive further discussions regarding a logical path forward. Mandating 100 percent scanning prior to concluding this first phase, will undermine the credibility of our current initiative.”
  7. “But, for all that we have accomplished in so many areas, here we are nearly six years after 9/11, and one of our fundamental goals for improving homeland security still lies just beyond our grasp.”
  8. “Since the terrorist attack on our soil, one of our most-feared scenarios has involved terrorists hiding the components for a nuclear or radiological bomb inside one of the shipping containers that enter into and pass through our seaports each year.”
  9. “This capability would be the vital link that would close the loop between CBP’s trusted partnership program with the trade, information-based risk assessment, and secure ports. What we’ve called “Smart Box” has yet to be developed.”
  10. “All these initiatives work together as a deterrent, making it harder for terrorists to penetrate security and put a bomb—or components for a bomb—in one of the millions of containers that move in and out of ports around the world on a daily basis.”
  11. “But, as I said at the outset, I believe we are on the right track. We have been able to provide increased security, despite increasing trade volumes, and that is because we are working with our partners here in the U.S. and around the world to protect the global supply chain.”

Container Security, CSI





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